Is a small organization started by a close friend of mine who I was stationed in Japan with. We were both Iraq and other operation veterans and found ourselves in a non-deployable, rear echelon command. My buddy, decided to utilize this opportunity to get his life squared away and plan for a future outside of the Marine Corps. Many times in a military career, especially one that coexists with war time operations, you lose your best friends to unseen enemies. Often, the turmoil going on under the surface never arises due to your discipline and training to focus on the mission at hand; problem is, when there no longer is a mission.
In this day and age the American people are shielded and protected so well by the girls and guys on the old gray line that the impact of war has never even brushed their lives. While many veterans genuinely appreciate the standard “Thank you for your service” comments, few if any truly feel any genuine gratitude being shared by those who speak it.
Too often does the general societal opinion of veterans reside in the “Thanks, no go away so I can continue living my life free from worry.” Truthfully, this is mostly a subconscious feeling; meaning that many people are not even aware that this is how they are making veterans of recent and foreign wars feel.
This leads me to the root of the problem, awareness. Rarely do civilians get an introspective look into the aftermath of combat military life. The few times that the large scale populace get to see what happens to those of us who sold our innocence to Uncle Sam for a shot at battlefield glory, are often in the worst light. Too many times do damaged veterans lash out at civilians, go on rampages, or any number of things they would have been applauded for on the battlefield but they could not figure out how to flip the switch and become a normal human again.
So a couple of my Marine buddies have set out on a hike from Marine Corps Base Quantico all the way to Poughkeepsie, NY. 430 miles on foot on the East Coast. The Mission Continues, is on GoFundMe and endeavors to assist in the transition to the civilian working life that so many veterans struggle with. We as a generation have an opportunity to negate the actions of the past government and media initiatives to beat up on war vets having a hard time coping with PTSD and other injuries. And though our society seems to reinforce that the Iraq/Afghan wars are yet another variation of meddlesome foreign policy and that we are just another group of Vietnam vets, we the people can make a difference in the lives of those who feel called to go forth in danger on behalf of those who cannot protect themselves.
You can follow their progress on their twitter feed, they are giving good updates, making me ever more jealous and wishing I could be out there with them:
And if you are feeling generous: